If Memory Serves, an off-Broadway show whose troubled production history included not only delays in dates but the fiery destruction of the lead actress' apartment, will end its run at the Promenade Theatre, Dec. 26, after only 20 previews and 16 regular performances. Reviews were mixed to negative for the comedy, which began advertising "Final Weeks" earlier this week and made the decision to post a closing notice this morning (Dec. 26).
In Memory, Elizabeth Ashley plays a wholesome, Mary Tyler-Moore Florence-Henderson-type television star desperate to revive her flagging career. All goes to pieces, however, when her son, played by Sam Trammell, makes some ill-considered jokes which then take on a media life of their own.
Ashley is best known for several Broadway turns in the plays of Tennessee Williams, including Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Suddenly Last Summer. She recently appeared at Washington, D.C.'s Shakespeare Theatre in Sweet Bird of Youth.
Trammell won a Theatre World Award and a Clarence Derwent Award for Ah, Wilderness! at Lincoln Center. He also appeared off-Broadway in Dealer's Choice.
Early on, producers Charles H. Duggan, Jennifer Manocherian and Bill Haber hoped to mount Memory in July, but that was changed to fall 1999 when theatres became scarce. If Memory Serves officially opened Dec. 12. It was supposed to open Dec. 8 but the producers changed the date at the last minute to accommodate last-minute changes. The official explanation was that the show needed more preview time, according to a press spokesperson. Also in the cast are Tony Campisi (Frankie and Johnny in the Claire De Lune), Lynda Gravatt, Ron Mathews, Marilyn Sokol (Conversations with my Father), Melanie Vesey and Jeff Whitty (Gross Indecency).
If Memory Serves was written by Jonathan Tolins, the author of Twilight of the Golds. Leonard Foglia, who staged the Broadway production of Terrence McNally's Master Class, directs. He also directed the Pasadena mounting of If Memory Serves, which starred Brooke Adams and David Groh.
Lead performer Ashley lost nearly everything she owned Oct. 14 when a devastating fire gutted her Manhattan apartment. The fire struck Ashley's Union Square home after she stepped out for breakfast around 9 AM. A cigarette she had tossed into the kitchen wastebasket ignited. The resulting conflagration was fought by 190 firefighters for 90 minutes, according to The Daily News.
Ashley's 1962 Tony Award for Take Her, She's Mine was reportedly one of the items lost in the blaze. According to a spokesman for the Tonys, the trophy will be replaced by the organization. In a similar incident years ago, the Tony organization replaces Stephen Sondheim's Tony awards after his home was consumed by fire.
-- By David Lefkowitz & Robert Simonson